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The Curse of the Mistwraith

(Wars of Light and Shadow #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  5,421 ratings  ·  289 reviews
The world of Athera lives in eternal fog, its skies obscured by the malevolent Mistwraith. Only the combined powers of two half-brothers can challenge the Mistwraith’s stranglehold: Arithon, Master of Shadow and Lysaer, Lord of Light.

Arithon and Lysaer will find that they are inescapably bound inside a pattern of events dictated by their own deepest convictions. Yet there
Mass Market Paperback, 830 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by HarperCollins (first published May 1993)
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Janny Politely - certainly not!!! If you had read the book, the conclusion would be obvious. You can verify the copyright dates, absolutely - this book was …morePolitely - certainly not!!! If you had read the book, the conclusion would be obvious. You can verify the copyright dates, absolutely - this book was first published in 1993.

The fact 'mistwraith' is a term in common - this book predated Mistborn by a long shot - rest assured, that is OK by me, as the two stories are totally different. Likely it's doubtful Sanderson was aware of the overlap.(less)
Janny The English version, exactly:

For Gladden Schrock, guiding light for dreams and closet albatrosses - here is one that flew.

If you are a German speaker …more
The English version, exactly:

For Gladden Schrock, guiding light for dreams and closet albatrosses - here is one that flew.

If you are a German speaker trying to translate, here's a little insight: Gladden Schrock is a literary novelist and a playwright (who also professionally fished on a trawler off the Maine coast) who had one of his novels nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He, as a college professor, and the ONLY one who would take on my writing - gave me some brilliant insights into the art of writing. He called one of the very very early, original drafts for Curse of the Mistwraith 'a closet albatross' - the reference being to an ocean bird with a huge wingspan that soars and circles the world, and also mates for life - but in a closet, awkward, useless, destined for obscurity. He wrote that reference expecting I'd never make the changes necessary to get the immensity of the ideas and concept into something that could reach the world. Well, put simply, he gave the necessary sharp advice, and I took it to the letter, and you hold the result in your hands. I have had many mentors, he was the first, and unafraid to tackle what, even back then, was a formidable pile of manuscript in no way ready for the public eye. He's still alive, and a hero, and if you are curious about his work, check out is gorgeously poetic style in the novel, Letters from Alf.(less)

Community Reviews

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Mark Lawrence
The Curse of the Mistwraith is a book that had been sitting on a shelf in our bathroom for many years before I picked it up and blew off a thick layer of dust. I’d never heard of the book but I knew the author’s name well because she co-authored (with Raymond E Feist) one of my favourite fantasy trilogies, The Empire Trilogy. I’ve enjoyed a good number of other books penned by Raymondy all by himself, but I’ve always wondered how much of the magic in The Empire Trilogy came from Janny Wurts.

Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Buddy read with some of the most wonderful people in my Fantasy book group! ❌⭕️😘

A black, winged beast narrows scarlet eyes and dives off a ledge into cloud, and a long, wailing whistle summons others into formation behind its scale-clad tail

This was a fantastic high fantasy book! If you’re into a lot of fighting this is probably not for you, but you could always give it a go!!

I have been lucky enough to get some of her old school books in hardback! And I have a bunch in paperback not shown
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
*** 4.65 ***

I had never heard of this series until one of the groups here on GR, The Fantasy Buddy Reads Group, announced they were reading it starting this month. I had just read something else by Ms. Wurts and loved it, so I was very excited to check this one out. Whatever I was expecting, it wasn't it. I knew it would by High Fantasy, I just didn't expect the way this author had gone about writing and structuring it. It starts typically enough, a fleet of Royal Ships is battling some pirates,
Mayim de Vries
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Let each who reads determine the good and the evil for himself.”

There is this wonderful saying in one of the languages I pretend to know: “to take/tackle something like [you would] a hedgehog.” It means doing something reluctantly, awkwardly, and with exaggerated caution. That is me, writing this review. The reason is simple, The Curse of Mistwraith opens one of the most impressive if least known epic fantasy series out there.

You all probably know The Song of Ice and Fire, and Malazan, the Whe
Sep 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
Hey, I have a booktube channel (youtube for book reviews, etc.), and I include Curse in my top 10 fantasy books list here.

The best thing I can come up with to describe this book is that it's the most frustratingly amazing book I've ever read.

I can see why The Curse of the Mistwraith is one of those love it or hate it kind of books. It's been called overly-long, overly-detailed, and overly-descriptive, but I didn't find that to be the case. Instead, I'd go with the word 'immersive,' a word more o
May 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: dedicated Wurts fans
Unfortunately, I did not enjoy Mistwraith at all. I literally was forcing myself to read 50 to 100 pages at a time, before I'd lose interest and set it down again. Had the plot been told in a more linear fashion, with less background and more actual action, I might have enjoyed it more.

The writing suffered from a disjointed structure and over-abundance of verbage. As in example, within the first twenty-seven pages of the book, we are treated to a "Prologue," written in historical fashion; a sea
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Re-read for the read-along from r/fantasy.
If you'd like to check it out, here is the link:


Warning! This review contains spoilers!
I have added a note that includes spoilers at the end of my original review, in answer to a request from a fellow GR reader/reviewer who asked me to address a few of his issues with this book.

My review - spoiler-free

Epic high fantasy at its highest and I absolutely adored it!!!

What is it about?

It is the story of 2 half-b
Graeme Rodaughan
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves an intricately told epic high fantasy
What would a war between mercy and justice look like? - read this epic 5 star fantasy book to find out.

Janny Wurts is to be congratulated on her awesome world building, deeply nuanced and delineated characters, and plotting that reminds me of flawlessly putting together a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

However, I have a caveat as I almost DNF'ed this book at around the 300 page mark, and it's entirely due to the style in which it is written.

When reading Janny's excellent work, I was often left exper
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
5 stars after a second read.

I loved this first book in the Wars of Light and Shadow series. I will definitely re-read the entire series once I'm done with it, and I can imagine that it'll turn into a five star read. There's much between the lines to be discovered, and there are definitely things I missed.

Edit in 2019 after reading it a second time: this is incredibly rewarding to re-read.

This isn't an easy book. It's not a quick read. The prose is dense, beautiful, descriptive, and the author,
Jun 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The first book in a sweeping epic, it sets up a complex set of worlds & yet also has a ton of action. If you're looking for something that rivals the Lord of the Rings, I think this is it. If you're looking for a quick easy read, something you can skim through - don't read this book. You'll only get confused. Every word is hand picked & polished to wring out the full meaning.

While the book is a setup to a series, it doesn't end on a cliff hanger, something I appreciate. Actually, it could easily
This is a fantasy epic that is truly 'epic'. It has a bit of everything, and a lot of some things. It is not an easy/quick 'summer' read. It takes concentration, patience, and quite a bit of faith to become completely absorbed and brought along to the book's climax (actually the second one). And at that point, it scores a winning run...

This is certainly one that will inspire two things: first, that I get ahold of the rest of the series and dive into them, and second, that in time I go back and r
Jun 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
"The Curse of the Mistwraith" took me completely by surprise. Based on (obviously mistaken) assumptions, I expected something completely different - epic fantasy, yes, but nothing even close to the gorgeous prose and astounding depth I found in this novel.

The plot of this story is hard to summarize, partly because there are so many twists and turns that it's almost impossible not to run into spoiler territory very quickly. Two half-brothers, Arithon and Lysaer, are on opposite sides of a confli
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reread: After the powerful ending of Stormed Fortress, considering the way the story threads converge, I was so satisfied that I had to start Initiate's Trial forthwith. And again, which wasn't easy, it was simply brilliant! This is my favorite series. It's a sweeping epic, unpredictable, featuring top-notch characterization, never lagging and wrought in gorgeous prose. I'm constantly hungry for more.

March 2015: I'm currently reading Stormed Fortress, this series is simply awesome, a fantasy jew
Simply put, I loved this book. From the intriguing Prologue, to the turbulent climax, to the cautiously peaceful denouement, I loved this book. It was a reading experience and I am looking forward to continuing with the rest of this powerful series.

The main characters, half-brothers Lysaer and Arithon, are a living embodiment of Light and Dark in all its permutations: each always in contrast but both absolutely necessary to the other. Born on the splinter world of Dascen Elur and raised to loath
Mar 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
ETA 2/11/2013: This is a series that builds with beautifully woven detail. It takes persistence, because there are unreliable narrators, small clues that get lost first time through, etc. But by the time I got to book 9, Initiate's Trial, I saw much more clearly how all of it is woven together. The style takes some getting used to, but after halfway through it reads like butter. (end of edit)

This may have been one of the best books I've read. It certainly has one of the most complex, intriguing,
May 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jon by: Jim
5 stars

Posting my comment to Mark Lawrence's review of The Curse of the Mistwraith here:

Thanks, Mark, for your 'honest' review. I'm a huge fan of Janny's work and have read and reread Curse multiple times because Janny doesn't hand-hold her readers like most modern authors do these days. Janny expects real intelligence, not artificial or superficial intelligence, from her audience. I would bet that if I picked up Curse of the Mistwraith and reread it I would find even more depths and layers tha
Jun 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I'm giving up on this one on page 307 of about 600. It's just not grabbing me. Here are my problems with it:

1. I don't understand the basis for the system of magic being used, because it's never really explained. There are long, LONG passages where you read about WHAT the mages are doing, but have no idea HOW or WHY it is supposed to work. I have no idea if the efforts being made are likely to work or not, and so the descriptions fall pretty flat as far as building dramatic tension goes. I see n
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Well, either Goodreads has changed the way you can review books, or I didn't see how to post more than one review before. I've read this one at least 3 times, I enjoyed it that much.

There are two authors whose writing is dense and difficult but in the end reveals a story both exciting and addictive - Janny Wurts and Dorothy Dunnett. I've read and reread their works and never get tired of them.

This first book of what is to be an eleven book series is the introduction to a world of wonder, and in
Mike (the Paladin)
This is a good book, this is a well written book, and I wish I liked it better than I do. It is well constructed, it's a well laid out world (worlds?) and the characters are filled out and "fairly" true to themselves.

I can't say that the plot or the characters are particularly original (as some reviewers have)... though to be fair, how many "really" new or original stories and characters are there? Yes, I've seen the "archetypes". There are the brothers one light one dark...caught in destiny's
Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, maps
I give up. It's not often I quit a book, especially after having waded through 400+ pages (and it so highly recommended by readers I trust), but I'm going to be the odd man out on this one.

The farther I got, the less I liked it. I don't care if either prince dies or kills the other. Two-thirds of the way through they (maybe/kinda/sorta) conquered the Mistwraith, and took up trying to be kings. Paradoxically, the initiate enchantress Elaira seemed the best drawn character.

If it had been written f
If I had read just the last 50 pages of this novel I would have been quite impressed. They are wonderfully moving, reminiscent (in a good way) of the section in The Return of the King after Sauron is defeated but before the hobbits head back to the Shire.

Unfortunately, those last 50 pages are not earned by the 540 pages before. The first 540 pages were really quite bad -- not because Wurts is a poor writer, but because she is a poor storyteller. The sentence-by-sentence writing is actually quite
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It is very hard to do justice to a book I find so amazing. This isn't the first time I've read it and it probably won't be the last. And that, to me, is one of the biggest reasons why it gets five stars. There isn't anything I don't like.
The rhythmn of Ms Wurt's writing captures me from page one; a lyricism to the prose I find compelling. I never have to question who or what or where, because, simply, I am there with the characters.
The story itself is the beginning of a fairly long series follow
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
*SIGH* This book is one of those that grips you tightly and takes you you on a journey... The writing is lyrical but comples, with layers of nuance. But the imagery... *speechless* It's not an easy read...it takes concentration to gleam understanding and the characters (and you) are more than put through the wringer. (And yes, there are still certain characters that I want to rip apart with my bare hands.) But...this book is so worth it. It has been over a decade since I first read it and yet it ...more
Tracy Dobbs
Jun 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I have had this book for many years, since it's original American release. The story that begins in this volume has incredible depth. There is magic, there is music, there is love and friendship and companionship; finally, there is deep-seated, curse-induced hatred and war(well, closer to a genocidal campaign). This book, indeed, the series as a whole, is not an "easy" read. It is complex and challenging and worth every second that is spent reading. ...more
Buddy read with the amazing folks at Fantasy Buddy Reads. Special thanks go to Laura the WoLaS-Mom for helping me through this book :)

This is one of those books where I'm really not sure how to rate it. There were some elements I thought were great and some I didn't like that much.

First of all, I think that Janny Wurts is a very talented author who deserves a lot more attention.
The Curse of the Mistwraith is one of the best books I have ever read when it comes to worldbuilding and it features in
David Sven
I'm giving this away at 35%. I can't get past the style. It's not like its as hard or harder than reading say Erikson or Hamilton - its just boring me. At 35% I don't think I can put myself through another week of it. Which is a shame because I think the story could be quite good and I suspect the world created could be quite interesting. I like the underlying idea of the book, and I like that it's complex in world building. I really want to like this book. It's just the execution is a little wa ...more
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Didn’t really get on with this.
P.L. Stuart
Dec 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“The Wars of Light and Shadow were fought during the third age of Athera, the most troubled and strife-filled era recorded in all of history. At that time Arithon, called Master of Shadow, battled the Lord of Light through five centuries of bloody and bitter conflict. If the canons of the religion founded during that period are reliable, the Lord of Light was divinity incarnate, and the Master of Shadow a servant of evil, spinner of dark powers. Temple archives attest with grandiloquent force to ...more
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Astonishing and remarkable, this series is exceptional…

The curse of the mistwraith volume one of the wars of light and shadow opened my eyes to the greatest fantasy series of all time that is a testimony to what a dedicated, visionary writer can achieve. I was blown away by the sheer originality and creativity that was on a par with JRR Tolkien in regards to its uniqueness and vastly detailed plot that was a delight to behold. This compelling book I was unable to put down as I lost myself withi
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was like a solid dose of nostalgia for me. An old-style epic-high magical world with magic left and right, mages and high mages, legendary creatures - so Tolkienesque and yet not Tolkienesque. In fact there is quite a bit of stuff that can act as a critical commentary of Tolkien

If this book has one fault, it is that its a bit too slow. But that is understandable. I felt like 70% of this book was setup for the future series. Meanwhile there is some meticulous worldbuilding and painstaki
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Janny Wurts is the author of War of Light and Shadow series, and To Ride Hell's Chasm. Her eighteen published titles include a trilogy in audio, a short story collection, as well as the internationally best selling Empire trilogy, co authored with Raymond E. Feist, with works translated into fifteen languages worldwide. Her latest title in the Wars of Light and Shadow series, Destiny's Conflict, c ...more

Other books in the series

Wars of Light and Shadow (10 books)
  • The Ships of Merior (Wars of Light & Shadow, #2)
  • Warhost of Vastmark (Wars of Light & Shadow, #3)
  • Fugitive Prince (Wars of Light & Shadow, #4)
  • Grand Conspiracy (Wars of Light & Shadow, #5)
  • Peril's Gate (Wars of Light and Shadow, #6)
  • Traitor's Knot (Wars of Light & Shadow, #7)
  • Stormed Fortress (Wars of Light and Shadow, #8)
  • Initiate's Trial (Wars of Light and Shadow, #9)
  • Destiny's Conflict (Wars of Light & Shadow, #10)

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